MEC Fritz welcomes release of crime statistics, notes patterns with concern
On Friday, 21 August 2021, National Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, presented the crime statistics for the first quarter of the 2021/2022 financial year.
Minister Cele and his team were at pains to emphasize the irregular variation in the 2020/2021 financial year caused by the hard lockdown of Covid 19, and asked that the presented figures be read against the backdrop of patterns emerging over previous years. The irregular variation as such showed an overall decrease in crime in Quarter 1 of 2020/2021 from the previous year, and then a drastic increase from Quarter 1 in 2020/2021 to the present financial year, i.e. 2021/2022. We still see an overall decrease of all reported crime from the 2019/20 pre-Covid year.
What is encouraging is that in respect of murder, Khayelitsha showed a decrease of 7.5% and Philippi East and Bishop Lavis showed a decrease of 50% when compared to the same period last year. Nyanga recorded no change to its figures.
Bishop Lavis, Khayelitsha and Philippi are among the areas which have been prioritized in terms of the Provincial Safety Plan for the establishment of Area-Based Teams and deployment of LEAP Officers. While it is too early to attribute these technical decreases in murder to the Provincial Safety Plan, it is worth noting the figures as the trend develops. Interventions in these and other hotspot areas will continue to be established and, where already established, will be intensified.
Overall, the figures still paint a picture of persistently high rates of crime and violence in the Western Cape.
Of the Top 30 Stations in the country for murder, eleven stations are from the Western Cape: Kraaifontein (3); Delft (5); Harare (6); Mfuleni (7); Khayelitsha (8); Gugulethu (9); Nyanga (12); Mitchells Plain (15); Philippi East (16); Samora Machel (17), and; Lwandle (27).
Kraaifontein (67) and Mfuleni (54) recorded increases in murder cases reported of 179% and 170% respectively. Gugulethu (47) showed an increase of 88% and Atlantis (20) showed an increase of 81.8%. Delft’s 63 murders represent an increase of 65.8%, and Harare’s 58 murders shows an increase of 65.7%. These are also areas which have been identified as priority areas for the Western Cape and for the deployment of the LEAP officials.
Based on SAPS’s analysis of the causative factors of murder, we see that in the Western Cape, the majority of murders (33.1%) are gang related murders, 25% related to arguments/misunderstandings/road rage/provocation as a causative factor; 15.7% related to retaliation or revenge; 10.46% due to a robbery, and 5.3% were taxi related.
Minister Fritz said, “one of the things I would like to query is the definition of ‘gang’ used in this Report, because it is not entirely clear to me that the concept of a gang as it obtains on the Cape Flats in terms of organized crime is the same everywhere. If, for example, a group of friends commit a crime, is that recorded as a gang-related incident? But in any event, gangsterism evidently remains a challenge in our society, and in this regard our interventions are aimed at making youth more resilient to entering gangs. But it’s also a matter of providing economic opportunities to young people, so that gangsterism is not seen as a means of economic survival. We see the arguments category is quite high, as well as the revenge killing category. This is also a challenge in that our people don’t know how to resolve disputes without resorting to violence.”
Minister Fritz continued, “the other concern is a total of 48 (8.5%) murders as a result of mob justice. It is something that the SAPS need to take very seriously by investigating and arresting guilty parties, but also, and more importantly, by acting with the kind of professionalism and integrity that inspires confidence in the community.”
In terms of where reported rape cases have taken place, 73% of rape cases which happened in the Province in the period under review happened in the residences of the perpetrator or the victim (including residence known by the victim/perpetrator). 16.6% of rapes happened in public places.
Minister Fritz continued, “these are some of our initial impressions based on a closer reading of the figures. As we can all see, there is work to be done. But we also need to start making the link between the structural challenges faced by SAPS and these kinds of figures. The crisis faced by the Forensic Science Laboratory; the state of disarray in which the Central Firearms Registry finds itself, and; most importantly, the lack of SAPS boots on the ground has serious knock-on effects that need to be urgently addressed if we are to fundamentally change this trajectory.”
“The Department of Community Safety will continue to look at the figures and we will be releasing more detailed analysis on more specific issues in the days to come as well”, concluded Minister Fritz.